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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is the place to learn how to care for a three legged dog or cat, with answers about dog leg amputation, and cat amputation recovery from many years of member experiences.
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Peyton 8 year old Golden with Osteosarcoma
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11 February 2011
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11 February 2011 - 7:45 am
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Hi all.  We got the heartbreaking news yesterday that our 8 year old Golden retriever, Peyton has osteosarcoma.  Chance of mets is high and chemo is not an option for us, financially and due to the high likelyhood of mets.  We are weighing the decision of whether or not to amputate his right front leg.  I'm just heart sick over this and don't know what to do.  Would love to hear from anyone who has gone through this.  With the exception of the limp he is a happy, healthy guy right now.

Thanks!

Brenda

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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11 February 2011 - 9:43 am
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Brenda, we are so, so sorry about Peyton. Welcome to the club nopawdy wants to join.

We know that the news is shocking, sad and upsetting, but here's what you gotta do.

  1. Take a deep breath
  2. Tell Peyton that you promise that no matter what, his quality of life is the most impawtant thing in the world to you.
  3. Promise him that you will live as he does, and enjoy each day to the fullest without worrying about what tomorrow may bring.

Ok, I know, easier said than done, but the more you practice, the better you get at doing this.

Here's the deal...with osteosarcoma, yes, chances of mets are high in all dogs who are diagnosed. The mets are microscopic, too small to be seen with conventional radiographs. That, however, doesn't mean that this is no reason to proceed with amputation if your doctor feels that Peyton is a good candidate. There are many, many of us here who lived for a lonnnnng time after amputation, some of us even with mets (most recently we met a dog who has been living with them for 2 years!).

Deciding on amputation is scary. Is Peyton a candidate? Is he overweight or does he have joint/hip problems? What has your vet said about his likelihood of being successful as a Tripawd? And have you gotten a second opinion?

As for chemo...don't beat yourself up over this. Again, many of us, myself included, did not do chemo and many of us lived a long time despite that, some for a couple of years! I myself made it 24 months but many dogs have gotten further along than I did!

The most important thing is to focus on quality of life, not quantity. If Peyton is a candidate for amputation, it's the best way to alleviate the horrible pain he is in (they hide it very, very well). If he isn't a candidate, other options like bisphosponates have done wonders to alleviate pain and provide a better quality of life than painkiller narcotics alone.

Here's what I suggest..check our our Required Reading List, and if you're so inclined to get more info, our ebook, "Three Legs and a Spare" will give you the whole scoop on making the decision to amputate and what to expect.

Oh yes, and please check out our beloved friend Peyton's blog, another Goldie who valliantly fought OS, and whose pawrents would I'm sure be hoppy to chat with you about what they experienced.

Thanks for joining us here, we are here to help OK? Hugs coming your way...

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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11 February 2011 - 12:18 pm
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Brenda, I'm very sorry you've had to join us.  There is a wealth of information here, just keep reading. Making an informed decision is the best thing you can do.  Know what the options are and whether or not it will fit your circumstances.  Every one does not choose chemo for many different reasons.

If you have the resources to amputate, as Jerry says, it is the only way to eliminate the pain.  Yes you and Peyton will have to learn a new normal, but many of us have done it and it is easier on the dog than it is on the human.

The bad part about this disease is that no two are alike.  Statistics are only numbers that kinda give you something to go by.  There isn't a date stamp on Peyton's butt, so you have no way to know if he will have months or years to live.

Please ask all the questions you can think of.  Someone here can answer just about anything.

I would also encourage you to find someone to give you a second opinion if you have any doubts at all.  Our second opinion saved Trouble's life.  She was destined to pain management meds and a couple of months, she had an amputation and chemo and has been 27 months cancer free.  You just don't know what this journey will bring.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

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11 February 2011 - 12:58 pm
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Welcome to the family. I'll throw a couple things your way that you might want to consider.If your vet says Peyton would be a good candidate for amputation and you can afford that, I would be inclined to move ahead with that. The pain from cancer can be terrible, and I have seen here where a few have had their dog fracture a leg due to the cancer, thus putting you in maybe a tougher situation. I don't know how well pain meds work once the cancer pain increases, maybe someone here can help with that if your vet doesn't have an answer. As far as treatment post op, or possibly if you don't do surgery, if you live within reasonable distance of a university, you might want to ask your vet if he can see if they are running any trails right now that you may be able to get involved with, your sort of a guinea pig but it lets you get some treament at little or no expense sometimes.. Quality of life should be your prioroty and there is never a wrong answer, you do what you think is best for Peyton and you hope the outcome is what you intended. Good luck, Paws up, Spirit Gus and Dan

My buddy Gus had a left front amputation on April 7, 2010 and lived a great life until July 26,2010

Las Vegas, Nevada
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11 February 2011 - 4:03 pm
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Welcome Peyton and family.  I'm just so sorry you have to join us especially under the terrible circumstances.

Everyone here will give you tons of advice!  But just remember, the bone cancer pain is so unbearable that on humans the strongest narcotics can't totally eliminate the pain.  So, you can imagine the pain poor Peyton is in.  Removing the leg will eliminate the pain. 

Best wishes and keep us updated.  We are here to support and hold your hand if you need it!

Angel Comet's mom

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

Leicester, NY
Member Since:
23 August 2010
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11 February 2011 - 5:14 pm
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Hello Peyton! Glad you found this site, everyone here is always willing to share their experiences with you. Its amazing how well these pups do on 3 legs. FYI-I can relate to the financial part- our vet recommended carecredit for the amputation. Int free for 24 mths. 

Daisy earned her wings on Oct 22, 2011 at 14 years old

She is now the official greeter at the rainbow bridge

Everyone is guaranteed a welcome sniff and Dalmatian smile

Edmonton, Alberta
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11 January 2010
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11 February 2011 - 6:56 pm
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Oh Brenda. I'm so sorry this has happened to Peyton! Osteosarcoma is nasty and PAINFUL. Even if you can't afford chemo, the amputation truly - from everything I know - is the only way to get rid of the pain he is suffering right now. 

Our Catie - a Golden Retriever  and six years old at the time - was diagnosed with the same ugly disease and had her right foreleg and shoulder amputated on January 13 2010. Over a year and another birthday ago. And yes, it was a nasty hit financially (we did do chemo). I don't regret a hard earned penny of it.

Sending you best wishes as you struggle with your decisions and emotions right now.

Catie -

Birthday – November 4 2003

Amputation – January 13 2010

Crossed the Bridge – June 2 2011

 Catie Caitlin 

krun15
8
11 February 2011 - 8:06 pm
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Hi Brenda,

Welcome to Tripawds.  I'm sorry you have to deal with this, but you have found a very supportive and experienced community here.

Amputation is a big surgery, and has risks so that always needs to be considered. But left alone, bone cancer has only one outcome. If Payton is a good candidate for surgery you are giving him a chance to live a pain free life. Not everyone does chemo, for a variety of reasons.  Some here have chosen to go with holistic treatment options- you could look into that.

Most everyone here will tell you that they have no regrets with amputation no matter how much time they had with their pups post surgery.  It was quailty time- and that is all that matters.

Do some research- check out the videos and pictures on this site.  Look through some of the blogs to get an idea of what others have decided and why. Follow your heart and do the whatever you think is best for Peyton.

We are here to support you no matter what you decide to do.

 

Karen and the pugapalooza

Greater Western Washington area
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12 February 2011 - 1:28 pm
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Brenda,

I am sure you are overwhelmed right now.  I was when my boy got his diagnosis.  He was diagnosed on the 23rd of august after his slight limp (I posted a video of the limp, you can barely see it) then on the 27th his leg fractured.

I thought he would have a horrible time with the amputation, but in reality a week later he was moving and grooving and seemed to be happy that the pain from his leg was gone.

If I hadn't decided to do the amputation, he would have had to been euthanised that day, for the pain was extraordinary, even the meds at the hospital couldn't control it.

I have had 5 amazing and wonderful months with him since his amputation.  We have met people and dogs, and have had great adventures.  I am so glad he is still my world.

If I were you I would do the reading of "Jerry's list", then what helped me was going through the blogs and reading them.  I haunted this site when it first happened to us and read everything I could get my computer to pull up.  I helped ease my mind, it made me cry, and has brought me hope.

Peyton is lucky to have you. 

Elizabeth and Sammy

Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the right front leg 8/23/10,

leg fractured 8/27/10,

leg amputated 8/30/10

http://sammyand.....pawds.com/

 

I couldn't begin to say how special Sammy is to us.  Living and laughing with and loving this wonderful boy is priceless.

Lucas, Ohio
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17 September 2010
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13 February 2011 - 1:55 pm
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Brenda,

  My heart truly goes out to you. You couldn't have found a more knowlegeable and/or compassionate group of people. There's been so much good advice given already; I'll add another layer that might be of help. While the prevailing wisdom is removal of the tumor through amputation, unfortunately there are those cases where it's not an option...or there's that grey area where judgement has to take over.

  When our dog Spammy(10.75 yrs. old) was diagnosed on July23, 2010, the Dr. had taken both shoulder and lung x-rays. We've known this wonderful guy for 16 years...it still chokes me up to remeber his face as he walked in the room. Diagnosis of osteosarcoma in her right shoulder; on top of it, her lungs had significant mets. He went on to explain what we were looking at and answer our questions. Then the options...after saying he would normally recommend amputation ,but, (oh no!) in Spammy's case we might consider palliative care. My understanding was that he was concerned about spinal mets.

  We went home and talked things over. That was on a Friday. He had sent us home with a big hug for us and Tramadol and Dexamethasone for Spammy. She responded well to the medications. With almost nonstop online research and dialogue with my husband, A.J., we realized our Dr.'s gentle suggestion was the best choice in this bad situation.

  Now Spammy was truly a dog motivated by food so giving her meds wasn't a problem. Since I wanted her to be as pain-free as possible, I decided to tweak her dosing schedule to every 6 hours instead of every 12 hours. She did even better on that schedule (another peice of hot-dog? woo-hoo!). After two weeks we went down to every 4 hours on the Tramadol. We were lucky that she tolerated it so well. Other than the fact that she didn't really use her leg any more, she was still our smilin' Spammy..happy for an endless stream of love and...another hot-dog piece? woo-hoo!

  A.J. and I knew where this road would end. It was important for us that Spammy would leave this earth with the dignity she so much displayed here. Through countless hours on this site I had gained so much wisdom and strength. There was a saying that resonated with us profoundly...."I would rather be a week early than a day late". We had adopted Spammy at 8 weeks old so we felt we really could read her. She did remarkably well on her meds. She was happy, she slept well. Although she was no longer capable of going on our daily hikes, she was quite content to hang on the deck or even occasionally go sniff for chipmunks and squirrels with her sisters.

  Then on the 29th day we noticed a change. She had been restless during the night and although she still was happy to beg for meds, she preferred to sit instead of standing like she normally would do. Everything was pretty uneventful that day but in the evening I noticed that she was starting to have a bit of difficulty going up the stairs. The next day she stumbled (for lack of a better word) again in the morning...it was becoming obvious to us. She had been aliitle more restless than the night before also. We talked and cried and cried some more and then made the the hardest call of all. We knew from the changes of the previous day that in her own way, we were getting the sign.

  On tuesday August 23rd, Spammy took her final car ride. She walked to the car under her own power and walked (or hopped) into the vet hospital, tail wagging...knowing there were treats waiting..like always.

  We would have LOVED to have her around for even a few days longer, but it was about HER quality of life. We've talked about all of this alot since her passing and both of us are at peace with our decisions. We had a wonderful month cementing memories and making new ones with Spammy and also her sisters, Chloe and Xena.

  I guess that if there is anything I'd do differently, it would have been to get a second opinion; if for no other reason than to put my mind at ease. If we hadn't felt such confidence in the Dr. that knew and cared for her for her entire life, I probably wouldn't have even thought twice about it. I know that I've gone on at length here, far longer than I intended, but I guess when it's all said and done, you need to be at peace with your decision so that you can put your full focus on really enjoying the time you're together.  I'm sending really pawsitive thoughts your way.

    Anita   mom to Xena, Spammy angel and Chloe angel

 

 

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15 March 2011 - 8:26 am
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Thank you everyone for the caring and thoughtful posts!  I had found this board by accident and couldn't find my way back until now!  A little update on Peyton.  We had started him on Tramadol and Rimadyl right after his diagnosis, shortly after we added Gabapentin to the regime.  He did well for a few weeks but last week he was obviously in more pain.  We weighed the options (the vet that gave the initial diagnosis was not 100% with us on doing the amp and no chemo, hence the reason we didn't do it right away) again and decided to get a chest xray to check for mets and then get a second opinion for amputation alone if chest was clear (financially chemo is not an option right now).  I brought him in yesterday and his chest xray was clear but the leg was clearly fractured from the tumor.  So I felt I had to decide on the spot what to do.  I opted for amputation and the vet just called to say that he did so well overnight he gets to come home today.  He was bright eyed, his tail wagging away when she saw him and she said he literally dragged the tech that was attempting to walk him this morning.  All good news and gives me confirmation that we did the right thing.  Chemo weighs heavily on my mind...if only cost were not an issue cry  Still though, right now I am prepared to bring him home, love him, and enjoy him for whatever amount of time he has left.

krun15
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15 March 2011 - 8:46 am
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Welcome back.

Chemo weighs heavily on my mind…if only cost were not an issue cry

Unfortunately costs are a factor- don't worry or beat yourself up about it.  You are doing the best you can for Payton.

Please check out the Nutrition Blog on this site.  There are lots of ideas and discussion on diets and supplements there. 

Many here have chosen not to do chemo.  There are several pups here who did not do chemo and have thrived for months and even years.

 

Don't forget that the first couple of weeks after surgery can have lots of ups and downs.  Don't get discouraged if Payton has some setbacks.  Be sure you check out Jerry's Required Reading list for lots of information on what to expect with amputation and recovery.

 

Karen and the pugapalooza

 

littlemanjake
13
15 March 2011 - 9:09 am
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I'm glad you found your way back to this site and that Peyton did well in surgery.

Chemotherapy post amputation for OSA is not mandatory and absolutely not a magic bullet. It may have been your vet's personal beliefs or lack of experience with alternative choices, but the stats he's likely basing his recommendations on, are not from any recent, well  derived research. You will find dogs on this site on both ends of the treatment spectrum. Some will survive a long time & sadly, others will not. There isn't a reliable predictor, including tumor grade, as to how aggressive an appendicular OSA will ultimately to be.

It is a personal decision, dependant on beliefs, financial considerations, and what is best for your dog and your individual situation. Spend your time treasuring every day with Peyton. He isn't struggling with your choices & will simply go about enjoying his life day by day, and you should too.

My dog had her amputation just about seven months ago. She did not have chemo, I chose a holistic route,  and it's been a wonderful seven months. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I know I will never regret taking her to the park instead of leaving her at the oncologist's office for the day. That's what was right for us. There will never be enough time for us to spend with our dogs, so appreciate everything.

Something you might consider in the coming days…Peyton has been on Tramadol & Gabapentin for a long time now. Both drugs cause significant withdrawal. Withdrawal is not pleasant, so please discontinue them carefully as Peyton improves.

Good luck in the coming days.

Cynthia

Member Since:
30 July 2010
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15 March 2011 - 11:05 am
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Glad to hear Peyton did well during and post surgery, thats half the battle! The other half includes pawsitive thinking and encouragement on your part.  You can also look into alternatives that others have suggested, there are many options other than chemo.

Here has been my experience:

Over 10 years ago we had a dog, Bonnie, diagnosed with lymphosarcoma (cancer of the lymphnodes).  My mom went through chemo for 6-8 months with her, lungs were clear, she seemed to be rebounding, everything seemed fine. Until a few months later when she became lethargic, lost her appetite and lost that life filled look in her eyes.  Really the chemo only extended her life by months and in the end we had to say good bye.  And the chemo sessions weren't cheap either.

When faced with a second dog having cancer (my now tripawd, Chloe), I knew I did not want to undergo the chemo option for both the financial reasons and past experience.  I didn't want to put her through that especially if it might only preserve her limb and not actually fight off the cancer.  Luckily, her type of cancer was a soft tissue tumor and she was cured with the amputation.

I am not saying that my mom shouldn't have had Bonnie undergo chemo, just that the experience made me realize that it is not a "cure all".  It is another "time buying" treatment.  Some dogs do well, some dogs get cured, and some dogs do not respond to treatment.  It's all a gamble since there are things going on in their bodies that we just do not know about.  Do not feel bad about not being able to shell out the dough to get the treatments done, I think it is a far better thing to enjoy the time you have left with Peyton, since he does not know he has cancer.  Love him, spoil him, and keep doing what you think is right. We are all here for you.

-Chloe's mom

Chloe became a rear amp tripawd on 7-29-10. Another tumor was removed on front leg 2-20-14. Found 3rd tumor on neck 2-2015, but she's still kicking cancer's butt at age 14. Chloe's blog

WYO
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10 February 2011
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15 March 2011 - 2:08 pm
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We hope Peyton has a  great recovery from the amputation and and we are sending him healing wishes! We are new to the tripawd thing as well.The information, advice and encouragement from the website have been pawsome! Its in my favorites!

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